Top 3 Languages to Learn if You're from the Midwest and Don't NEED to Learn Another Language

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If you're from the Midwest, you might be thinking to yourself, "why do I need to learn another language?" and you're right, we don't! We're surrounded by people who speak English, but there are still plenty of good reasons to learn another language, even if you don't "need" to. For starters, it's a great way to challenge yourself and keep your mind sharp. Plus, it can help you connect with people and broaden your horizons.

As someone who has attempted to learn three different languages (at varying levels of "success"), I can tell you that it can be a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows. Like I'm sure many of you, I opted for Spanish as my foreign language of choice in high school. I came away from two years of high school Spanish with more knowledge of the language, yes...but not much. In college, I decided to try my hand at French. Maybe it was the proximity to our French-speaking neighbors to the North, maybe it was our small class of 3, or perhaps it was the language concepts & exposure I gained from high school but I felt more confident with my French abilities than I did Spanish. Unfortunately upon transferring colleges I found myself in a much larger and advanced French II class and my confidence shattered me back to Spanish for one last hurrah before finally throwing in the towel on formal language learning. Since my college days, I have taken a crack at self-teaching one of the most difficult languages in the world: Polish. It hasn't been easy but I can say one thing for sure: 'Mój pies lubi ciasteczka twojego wujka.'

Enough rambling! Here are my top three languages for fellow Midwesterners who want to take the plunge and learn something new:

  1. Norwegian: Many Midwesterners can trace their heritage back to Scandinavia, and Norwegian is a great language to learn if you want to connect with your roots. Supposedly, Norwegian is also a relatively easy language for English speakers to pick up, with simple grammar and many cognates (words that sound similar in both languages). Not to mention, Norway is a beautiful country with a fascinating culture, so learning the language can give you a deeper appreciation for its history and customs.
  2. American Sign Language (ASL): While not technically a spoken language, ASL is a fascinating and unique way to communicate. It's a language of gestures and facial expressions, and it's used by millions of people in the United States and Canada. Learning ASL can not only help you communicate with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, but it can also open up new job opportunities in fields like education and social work.
  3. Spanish: If you're looking for a language that's both practical and widely spoken, Spanish is the way to go. Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the world (after Chinese), plus the U.S. is on pace to become the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world by 2050. If you're a fan of travel, Spanish-speaking countries are also popular destinations for American tourists. Learning Spanish can be a great way to connect with your Hispanic neighbors and coworkers, and for us Midwesterners, Spanish may also be the most accessible language to practice out in public.
Honorable Mention: German. Learning a second language may not seem practical or necessary for many people living in our neck of the woods, especially if you don't travel much. However, it can still provide numerous benefits. While German may not be as widely spoken as say Spanish, it can be a fun and quirky language to learn, especially for those who enjoy beer, sausages, and all things Oktoberfest. Plus, with German companies such as Volkswagen, Bosch, and Siemens investing in the Midwest, speaking German can be an asset in certain job sectors.

Even if you're from the Midwest and don't feel like you need to learn another language, there are plenty of good reasons to do so. Whether you want to challenge yourself, connect with your heritage, communicate with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, or explore a new culture, there's a language out there for you. So why not take the plunge and learn something new? Who knows, it might just broaden your horizons and open up new opportunities you never thought possible.

Do widzenia :)

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